Read Isaiah 46:1-10 “An idol is anything that takes God’s rightful place.” That is the closing statement in today’s devotion. Idolatry is more than an action. It is a state of mind and an attitude. Idolatry will always be prevalent in the absence of a dynamic, daily, interactive relationship with God. The irony of it all is, that is how God made us. We are hard-wired to be protective of our own interests, and worship that on which we depend to protect our interests, or at least that which appears to protect our interests. The challenge that God had with the Israelites, and that He has with us today is to get us to understand and appreciate the fact that we are dependent on Him for EVERYTHING [Full Stop]. Once understood, He will have our undivided worship.
Worship is built into our spiritual DNA. We are programmed to worship. Who and what we worship are secondary to the fact that we must worship. The farmer knows from observation that the crops he plants depend on the rain to grow. He is not sure exactly how this works… But he knows that when there is no rain or water, his crops and cattle die. He too will die if he can’t get water for a prolonged period of time. He soon realizes that rain and water protects his best interests… and so he worships the rain god. Soon he has a plethora of gods… the fertility god, the sun god, the moon god, the fire god, the wind god and many more.
Whether it be the sun, moon or rain, man will worship that which he believes is responsible for protecting his best interests. If we are not directly tuned into God, we will find alternatives to worship. “But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things! (Romans 10:14-15)
But not so fast. Do not leave our arch enemy out of this equation. He knows that there is one true God, and that He alone deserves and demands our worship. But I can just hear the Devil saying, “That is for me to know, and for you to find out.” Therefore the Devil could not care less in which god or gods you believe, and or worship, so long as it is not the True and Living God. We therefore can expect assistance from the Devil in the identification and establishment of all manner of gods and idols on whom we consciously or sub-consciously rely, and therefore, worship. Whether these gods are made of silver and gold, or whether they are silver and gold, or whether they are bought with silver and gold, is neither here nor there in the Devil’s Scheme of things. The only time he becomes aggravated and hysterical is when we worship the True and Living God.
The question then is, how difficult is it to worship the True and Living God and not any of the millions of other gods and idols made by human hands and formed in the human imagination. My answer is simple – very, very difficult. In fact it is impossible without the direct intervention and help of God Himself.
When Adam and Eve decided to disobey God by obeying the Devil and by acting on their obedience to the Devil, they became his servants (Romans 6:16). Through one man’s sin, sin entered the whole world. (Romans 5:12), Psalm 51:5 reports, “Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.”
Therefore, the Devil has a monopoly on our worship from the day we are born. God does not stand a chance, unless we are born again!
“Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” … Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again.” (John 3:3-7)
Because we are by default under the Devil’s control, it requires a power greater than his to free us from his clutches, and release us into God’s marvelous light. That’s why Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44). If you have not as yet been reborn into the family of God, now is a good time to ask God to draw you to Himself. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
OK… so now I am saved. Can I commit idolatry, and if so why? Most of us think of ourselves as being predominantly physical beings, when in fact we are identifiable spiritual beings living in a changing physical body. The overwhelming majority of our conscious experiences are physical. Our points of reference are physical. 99.9% of our inter-relations are with other beings like us who we see as being physical. Against this background, meaningful interaction with God who we cannot see, taste or touch with our physical senses is very, very difficult. The solution is to feed our spiritual selves with spirit food, and that is not difficult at all.
First we must decide which Spirit we want to feed, and hopefully it is the Holy Spirit of God that we choose.
Second we must practice communicating with God. The great news is that God wants to communicate with us
as much as we will allow Him. He will give us all the help we need in learning to communicate with Him, one-on-one.
Thirdly, just as we learn to recognize people by their physical characteristics, even when it is on a telephone call, so we will learn more and more to recognize the characteristics of God, even though we can’t receive Him through our physical senses. Most importantly, we will learn to recognize His voice as distinct from the voice of the other Spirit that can get into our heads… the Devil.
Fourthly, we will learn to appreciate God more and more as He reinforces His invisible presence by visible things that we can see, touch, hear and smell. As we get closer to Him, we begin to recognize Him in every circumstance, whether it appears to be good or bad.
Fifthly, because God wants us to worship Him, He will manipulate the circumstances in our lives so that we will recognize Him in the things on which we rely to protect our best interests – in our money, in our family, and in our good health. As a result we will worship Him and not the money; Him and not the family; Him and not the good health. Alternatively, He will prove to us that reliance on anything but Him is futile.
Finally, not worshipping the Devil is not good enough. To avoid idolatry, we must aggressively worship God in spirit and in truth, and daily learn to identify Him as the only one on whom we can effectively depend.
Remember to visit RBC’s Our Daily Bread Devotional today at www.ODB.org